Wolcott Keeper’s House

9999 E Bayshore Rd.
Lakeside Marblehead , OH 43440

419-798-9339   |  http://ottawacountyhistory.org/
Open seasonally Monday through Saturday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The First Keepers of the Marblehead Lighthouse

Wolcott Keeper's House was home to the Marblehead Lighthouse’s first keeper, Benajah Wolcott. Today, visitors can experience education programs and tours of the oldest surviving home in Ottawa County.

The Marblehead Lighthouse, one of the most recognizable landmarks on the Great Lakes, was built on the peninsula in 1821, and a year later Benajah Wolcott was appointed by the Collector of Customs as the Lighthouse Keeper. Wolcott was born in Connecticut and served in the Revolutionary War under Generals Washington and Anthony Wayne after enlisting at age 14. Following the war, Wolcott worked for the Firelands Land Company surveying the westernmost 500,000 acres of the Connecticut Western Reserve, later known as the Firelands, which was set aside for families from Connecticut whose homes and land were destroyed during the war. In 1809 Wolcott purchased 114 acres on the newly surveyed peninsula and moved there with his family. At the onset of the War of 1812, fearing attacks by the British and their Native American allies, Wolcott moved his wife and children to Newburg on the Cuyahoga River. Elizabeth Wolcott, died during their time in Newburg, and in 1815 Wolcott returned to the Marblehead Peninsula with his children. In 1819 Congress appropriated funds for the construction of a lighthouse to help ships navigate Lake Erie near Sandusky Bay, including an allocation to be used to build a keeper’s house near the lakeshore. By the early 1820s, construction of the Marblehead Lighthouse was completed, and in 1822 Wolcott was appointed as its keeper. He married Rachel Miller that same year and began construction of a limestone house for his family, located about a mile away from the lighthouse. Wolcott remained the Marblehead Lighthouse keeper until his death in 1832. Following her husband’s death, Rachel Miller Wolcott was appointed keeper by the United States Treasury Department, becoming the first female lighthouse keeper on the Great Lakes.

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Notes for Travelers

The history of the keeper’s house can be seen in its structure. Built from native limestone in the early nineteenth century, the building is a symbol of settlement and the limestone industry in this region of Ohio. Ottawa County Historical Society offers tours and programs at the historic home. The Keeper's House is located approximately one mile from the Marblehead Lighthouse. Visitors to the house will gain a sense of the peninsula’s nineteenth century history and how the cultural landscape of the area has evolved over time.

Additional Resources

Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, Gordon S. Wood.

Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie: Ohio’s Historic Beacon, James Proffitt.